Playing against an undefeated Peru squad, Oak Hill Head Coach Kevin Renbarger knew that his team would have to be ready to play from the opening tip to compete with the No. 13 team in Class 3A.
However, struggles on the offensive end and on the glass, combined with an uncharacteristic lack of energy, proved costly in a 63-46 loss on Friday night.
Minus sophomore Landon Biegel, who scored 28 of Oak Hill’s 46 points, the Golden Eagles’ offense could not find much of a rhythm. Despite open looks throughout most of the contest, Oak Hill shot just 16-of-42 from the field (38 percent). Biegel finished 11-of-17, but the rest of the team combined to shot five-of-25.
While Oak Hill struggled to score, the Tigers had no issues on the offensive end, shooting over 50 percent in each quarter, including eight-of-nine in the final frame. Along with shooting 23-of-37 from the field, Peru knocked down nine of their 17 looks from the perimeter, which helped them build, and keep, their advantage.
“We didn’t run a semblance of offense the way that we wanted to and the way we prepared all week,” Oak Hill Head Coach Kevin Renbarger said. “It was exceptionally disappointing to see the way that we played on both ends of the floor. We have not had good practices for a couple of weeks, and what you saw is what we’ve been putting out on the floor. We came out and looked like we were not prepared to play a basketball game.”
Biegel scored the first points of the contest on a three-pointer, but from that moment on, Peru assumed control. The Tigers ended the quarter on a 13-2 run, and outscored the Golden Eagles 15-8 in the second quarter to build a 28-13 lead, a double-digit advantage they would not relinquish.
“I don’t have an answer for it. I don’t have an answer,” Renbarger said. “They saw nothing that we haven’t prepared for. We didn’t play hard, and that’s been the mantra of this team for the last two or three weeks before [the Grant Four]. We were a team that played exceptionally hard, and we didn’t do that tonight at all.”
Along with their strong shooting, Peru’s tenacity on the glass also played a key role in their victory. In the first half, the Tigers outrebounded the Golden Eagles 16-8, creating multiple scoring opportunities with their physical play and their offensive rebounding prowess. For the game, Peru outrebounded Oak Hill by a 30-17 margin.
“We knew they would be a team that would be physical. Coach Thompson’s team always are,” Renbarger said. “In varsity basketball at the 3A level, if you want to compete, you have to be physical. We got outmanned at every position, and we were just too soft.”
Peru kept the pedal down in the second half, leading by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter, and their advantage never fell below 11 points after the halftime break.
While Renbarger was disappointed in his team’s performance as a whole, he was proud of how Biegel played throughout the evening. Going forward, however, Renbarger hopes to relieve some of the pressure that has been placed on his star sophomore.
“Landon was aggressive offensively, but we ask too much of him,” Renbarger said. “We put too much on his shoulders, and we put too much decision-making on his shoulders. He is a 16-year-old sophomore. He made some decisions that weren’t the greatest, but again, that’s on us because we ask too much of him. He’s an exceptional shooter. He can be an exceptional scorer. We have to do a better job of finding him places to get the ball.”
Kian Hite was Oak Hill’s second leading scorer with 11 points, while Matthew Strange and Grant Elzinga each finished with three points.
Kade Townsend led Peru with 19 points, which included four threes, to go along with five rebounds, while Matt Ross collected a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.
With not much time to reflect before their next contest, Renbarger hopes that they will be able to turn things around as the second half of the season progresses.
“We have a game tomorrow night,” Renbarger said. “It’s not going to be a lot of re-hashing what happened tonight. [We have] to find a way to get this thing back on track. We are going to have to grow up, and the adult in the room, which is me, is going to have to figure out how to start pushing the right buttons.”